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Thread: Breaking in the Tikka

  1. #1

    Breaking in the Tikka

    Unlike the UK, we have very little game shooting here in the US during summer. Feral hogs are an exception in the Southern US. The only problem is the heat and humidity make this a nocturnal sport.

    Through the generosity of a hunt club called 704 Outdoors, and the hard work of a veterans group, The Fallen Outdoors (TFO), I was invited for a weekend hunt. I can’t say enough positive about TFO – a group of veterans that facilitates outdoor events for veterans, all to encourage camaraderie and promote positive mental health. TFO of was the brainchild of 3 vets that hatched the idea while over in “a desert bad place” and they attributed part of staying sane to sharing hunting and fishing stories in their downtime. They envisioned this as a sort of live memorial to their fallen brothers in arms that did not return. Little did they know, one of the 3 founders would make the ultimate sacrifice. When they returned, the remaining 2 poured their effort into the fledgling organization, to great success

    So, back to the hunt. On the first day we all arrived in camp around noon for a “meet and greet in the North Carolina heat”, it was a balmy 94 degrees F (34 C if I calculated right). We sat in the shade, drank cold water, and introduced ourselves.

    One of the vets had traveled 10 hours south from Pennsylvania and was looking forward to this hunt more than the rest of us. He was in a particularly rough patch of life and this sporting camaraderie was what he needed to buoy his spirits. He was the first one on stand – and as luck would have it – the first to score. Normally the summer heat makes the pigs very nocturnal, but in this case he lucked into a suicidal boar that decided evening light was the right time to hit the bait pile. A 30 yard shot and he was soon back to camp taking pics and turning pig into iced pork in a cooler.

    Side Note: This pig continued to appear as an honored guest throughout the weekend (as breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

    I ended up being the last one to my stand, there being a bit of mix up exactly where it was located. By the time we found it, the commotion was sufficient that I expected nothing to show for several hours. I settled in and took a few pictures. What the pictures show clearly only became evident to me much later – during daylight you could see the bait between the trees – but after dark they were in such a place to strategically reflect nearly all the light from the red lamp.

    Once this became evident it simply became a matter of trying to stay on stand long enough before quitting so as not to have my manliness questioned. At midnight I sent the text and summoned the quad to come ferry me back to camp.
    Camp was a joyous place, with “Pennsylvania” gladly telling his story again and again. Beer was poured, pork was eaten, as slowly each unlucky hunter returned to camp. We all drifted off to sleep in caravans, or the back of pickup trucks as best we could in the night heat.

    We were all awake at or before the first hint of light, ready to head back out the stands. This time I asked my quad shuttle driver to drop me about ¼ mile from the stand so that I could properly stalk in. As I got to the high seat, I silently clambered up and immediately was rewarded with multiple furry creatures in range. My hopes were dashed when these were revealed to be a squabbling group of raccoons. Settling in I watched every form of wildlife, except hogs, visit the bait pile.

    Before the quad shuttle came back around 0930 I texted and asked for a brush saw. As John Paul refreshed the bait, I aggressively removed several small trees that had blocked my line of sight the night previous.

    Satisfied we headed back to camp for more pork, more beverages, and a mid-day siesta in the heat. Storms were forecast to come in for evening, but until the front arrived it actually became warmer and more humid than the previous day (35°C, 95% humidity). Several of us were unpleasantly reminded of postings in the jungle.

    After the passing of the first storm cells we dressed and all headed back out. Our hopes were that when the second wave of storms came in and cleared the resulting temperature change would get the hogs moving earlier than normal. This ended up being a false hope, and no shots were fired until almost 11 PM.

    Around 11 I was head bobbing, almost dozing when I was snapped awake by dual gunshots less than ¼ mile away. The text group reported two hogs shot, and the recovery crew was enroute. I had been told to expect lots of commotion (squeals, grunts, etc..) when a sounder of pigs showed at the bait. Instead I heard a single grunt. I quietly placed the virginal Tikka up on the rail, then flipped on the light.

    I was stunned to see not one hog, but rather a sea of eyeballs. The light was rather dim and I could only make out the hogs closest too me. I wasn’t choosy – opting for the nearest fat shoat. Crosshairs on shoulder, gentle squeeze of trigger, and BOOM.

    “Damn, I’ve gone blind”. I hadn’t counted on the 50mm Leopold objective doing such a good job of gathering the light of the muzzle flash. Slowly gaining back my vision I waited a bit, then texted the crew. In the meantime I was certain of my shot so I crawled down from the high seat, unloaded the rifle and set it against the base of the stand. I then drew my pistol and proceeded to the bait site under the light of my weak flashlight.

    Just as expected, there lay my first feral hog, and first head of game for the Tikka. While not a giant, this one scaled at 41 pounds dressed – perfect size to put on the smoker.

  2. #2
    Thanks for the great report. Great rifle and scope choice!

  3. #3
    I must emigrate to the USA
    I must emigrate to the USA
    I must emigrate to the USA



    Excellent write up


  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Kjf View Post
    I must emigrate to the USA
    I must emigrate to the USA
    I must emigrate to the USA



    Excellent write up

    You don't need to move permanently, just travel over for a bit of sport now and again. The hurdles to firearm ownership and stalking/hunting are much lower here - with quite a bit more public land (and unfortunately public land hunters). I still consider the UK to have some great sport that we don't get over here.

  5. #5

    Thank you for sharing the exploits of the group, hope it carries on doing good and enjoy the smoked hog.


  6. #6
    Ahh at last Curtis you have moved to the dark side and got a TIKKA!!
    All grades of deer stalkers/hunters in the UK and overseas catered for. Level 2 DMQ signing off available. Over 30 years experience in the stalking/hunting industry. For friendly and professional help go to


  7. #7
    hi Curtis nice pics, yeah ive shot in the usa, great shooting, great friendly people, as you said some fantastic shooting in the uk, BUT to much red tape, one of these days im going back home to the states. best regards dave.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sikamalc View Post
    Ahh at last Curtis you have moved to the dark side and got a TIKKA!!
    That would be your fault "Darth Harman"!

  9. #9
    Wow, great story. Could we do a Forest of Dean version of that hog hunt? Not sure we could replicate the 34 degree heat, though. I can't decide if it would better of we had public hunting permits here or not, but thanks for sharing.

  10. #10
    Nice report Curtis.
    A question for you, not shooting related but maybe you will know, on the first photo there is a shrub, right hand middle, is itOregon grape [ mahonia]?

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